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Grab Bag Midway Message:

Feeling a little overwhelmed, sick and frustrated by this. 

Beautifully done, ugly story. 

3 minutes 52 seconds… you can take it.

Go full screen. 

Here are actions we can all take on a personal level to be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem, from BayNature.org:

What You Can Do

When Shopping

Bring your own:

  • durable reusable bags, baskets, and containers for shopping at all stores
  • reusable lightweight cloth bags for produce
  • mug or cup for take-out coffee, tea, smoothies, etc.
  • reusable storage containers from home for restaurant meal leftovers
  • food from home in place of buying takeout

Avoid plastic packaging.

Avoid buying bottled water; the caps are not recyclable and their size and shape increase the likelihood they will end up in the ocean.

Buy products with minimal or truly recyclable packaging:

  • beverages and foods in glass containers with metal lids (and reuse the glass containers)
  • berries in paper pulp baskets
  • meat from the butcher counter and cheese from the deli counter–and ask that they be wrapped in butcher paper or waxed paper
  • cream cheese packaged in foil rather than plastic tubs
  • margarine in paper-wrapped cubes rather than plastic tubs
  • powdered laundry detergent in paper boxes rather than liquid in plastic bottles (but watch out for plastic bags inside the boxes)
  • toilet paper packaged in paper
  • bar soap instead of liquid soap in plastic bottles
  • wine in glass bottles with natural cork rather than plastic stoppers
  • pet food and cat litter in paper bags or boxes
  • nursery plants in pressed paper rather than plastic pots

Buy in bulk:

  • Buy foods like grains, seeds, nuts, beans, flour, pasta, cereal, crackers, cookies, tea, coffee, olives, etc., in bulk, and bring them home in your own containers or durable reusable bags.
  • Buy personal care products like shampoo and body lotion in bulk by refilling your own containers (some stores with large bulk sections carry personal care products in bulk).
  • Avoid buying individually wrapped or single-serving foods like cheese slices, pudding, juice in boxes, etc.

If you can’t buy in bulk, buy items in larger quantities to reduce packaging.

Avoid buying disposable plastic products like razors, pens, lighters, diapers, etc.

Buy used items when possible.

At Home

Fill your own stainless steel water bottle with tap water instead of buying bottled water.

Make foods from scratch if they usually come packaged in plastic (salsa, applesauce, yogurt, etc.).

Use non-plastic utensils and picnicware:

  • glass or paper drinking straws
  • metal utensils, plates, and cups for picnics

Use cloth rags and napkins instead of paper towels and paper napkins, which are packaged in plastic.

Store sustainably:

  • put leftovers in glass canning jars or other durable, reusable containers
  • dry items in waxed paper bags and aluminum foil instead of plastic bags and plastic wrap
  • cheeses in an airtight container rather than plastic wrap
  • lettuce in a dry, airtight container in the refrigerator
  • hardy greens like collards and kale in an airtight container with a damp cloth inside in the refrigerator or in a vase or jar of water on the counter for up to a week
  • spinach in an airtight container in the coldest part of the refrigerator
  • ripe fruits (including berries) in airtight containers in the refrigerator
  • fresh basil in either a vase of water or an airtight container on the counter for a week or more

Use paper bags or no bags at all for garbage disposal. If you must use a plastic garbage bag, choose one with recycled content.

For dish washing and household cleaning, use cloth rags, natural cellulose sponges, and loofa scrubbers instead of paper towels (which are packaged in plastic), synthetic sponges, and plastic scrubbers. (Note from LK: I buy a apck of 1-2 dozen washclothes at Costco and use these almost exclusively in the kitchen, reducing paper towel consumption dramatically.)

Dispose of dog and cat feces in 100 percent biodegradable bags or wrap them in old newspaper.

When a plastic item breaks, try to repair it instead of buying a new one.

In the Office

Replace plastic products with more sustainable ones:

  • paper tape instead of plastic tape
  • refillable tape dispensers
  • fountain pen (refill with bottled ink)
  • printer paper in paper-wrapped reams
  • Refill toner cartridges instead of buying new ones.

Upgrade your computer instead of replacing it. And when you must replace it, take the old computer, monitor, keyboard, printer, etc., to an e-waste disposal facility. Plastic computer housings collected in this manner are more often recycled.

In Your Community

Give away rather than throw away plastic items you no longer use.

Pick up plastic litter when you see it in streets and waterways.

Contact retailers and ask them to stock products packaged in non-plastic recyclable and compostable materials.

Contact manufacturers and ask them to use compostable non-plastic packaging or truly recyclable packaging like glass.

Write to your legislators and support bills aimed to reduce plastic in the environment:

  • AB 1358: Bans single use, take-out polystyrene (Styrofoam) containers
  • AB 925: Requires that single-use beverage caps be integrally attached to the container and made of recyclable material
  • AB 283: Gives producers an incentive to create sustainable products by requiring them to share responsibility for their products’ packaging
  • Local plastic bag bans and plastic packaging ordinances
  • More stringent recycling laws (some types of plastic are not currently recyclable and most plastic is not recycled unless the price of oil used for producing virgin plastic is very high)

Grab Bag Limitless :

“I don’t listen to people too much when they tell me I can’t do something”.

– Richie Parker

Richie Parker

Grab Bag Can I Get a Fitness?:

Hopefully I am chipping away at the myriad of excuses people have for deferring exercise.

Here’s the crow bar for the “I can’t get to the gym” boulder in your path…. it’s free, it’s fun, it’s a great workout, and it’s right in your own home:

It’s a site called FitnessBlender.com, created by a husband and wife team with really good priorities:

We started Fitness Blender because we believe that fitness should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their income. We also felt like there was a lack of reliable health and fitness information on the web, and too many people in the industry were more focused on appearance than they were on good health.

Fitness Blender is funded by ad revenue and the generosity of donations made by our users. Donations help keep Fitness Blender free and go directly towards funding expansions of Fitness Blender’s features and services.

Love this concept. You can get a ton of fun and well-constructed workouts for FREE… like this one I did and really liked:

Fitness Blender

Grab Bag Sweet Stuff:

Pandas

Grab Bag MacGyver Moment:

I figured out how to make a couple of slides have links to videos… so feel free to click on them when they come up.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Tetravex is an interesting game where you must drag and place  the blocks in such a way so that all sides that contact another block have the same color. 

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 8.07.20 PM

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

 

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Grab Bag Breast Video Ever:

Now HERE is a community service message we can all pay close attention to… really…. try to ACTUALLY LISTEN to what these guys have to say:

Breast Video Ever

Many thanks to Carolyn M. for sending this to me

Grab Bag Teach Dream:

12 minutes of absolutely inspiring teaching by a model human being:

Many thanks to Jo Ann N. for sharing this with me

Grab Bag Rollin’ With The Homies:

Lifestyle blogger extraordinaire Slim Paley (her blog is permanently linked under “Favorite Blogs” on the right side of this page) is in the running for Apartment Therapy’s Best Home Design & Inspiration Blog.

If you haven’t seen Slim Paley, enjoy! Gorgeous, inspirational, eye opening, globe trotting… this site has it all. From fashion to home design to REALLY DECADENT things to eat, Slim hits the fashionable nail on the head every time. Click on the AMAZING roses below to enter Slim’s world:

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To vote, please go here, register in 2 seconds (Apartment Therapy is a GREAT site, by the way) and vote for Slim in this first round… top vote getters move on to the finals. Go, Slim, go!

Grab Bag Stem Cell Youth:

Gotta love the brains at UC Berkeley! Go Bears!

Aging

A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, represents a major advance in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind aging while providing new hope for the development of targeted treatments for age-related degenerative diseases…..

….Researchers were able to turn back the molecular clock by infusing the blood stem cells of old mice with a longevity gene and rejuvenating the aged stem cells’ regenerative potential. The findings were published online on Jan. 31, in the journal Cell Reports…..

….over the past 10 to 20 years, there have been breakthroughs in scientists’ understanding of aging. Instead of an uncontrolled, random process, aging is now considered highly regulated as development, opening it up to possible manipulation.

Read the whole Science Daily article here.

Grab Bag Fitness Myth Busters:

From Zen to Fitness, a great fitness blog, comes Sargeant Michael Volkin‘s myth busters:

Busted! 5 Fitness and Health Tips That May Make You Cry

1- Myth: The more ab exercises I do, the skinnier my waist will be.

oblique-abdominal-exercises-l

BUSTED: Doing stomach exercises can strengthen your abdominal muscles, but it won’t burn body fat to give you that 6-pack you’re after.  If you want your ab muscles to show, you need to either be naturally skinny or embrace a diet low in carbohydrates and high in proteins with a decent helping of healthy fats and fruits and vegetables.

2- Myth:My diet includes diet soda, it’s zero calories so it has to be good for me. 

2204670_f520

BUSTED: According to a recent University of Texas study, drinking just two or more cans a day accelerated waistline expansion by 500%. The artificial sweeteners disrupt the body’s ability to regulate calorie intake. In other words, your body is being tricked into thinking it’s ingesting sugar, so you crave more food and as a result, eat more food than you would have without drinking the soda.

3- Myth:By working out, I can convert fat into muscle.

fat-v-muscle

BUSTED: You cannot convert fat into muscle as they are completely different.  In fact, when working out it is best to focus on either losing fat or gaining muscle.   In order to gain muscle, you have to eat more calories than you burn and, in order to lose body fat, you must burn more calories than you consume.

4- Myth:Cardio is more important for fat loss than weight lifting.

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BUSTED: You will definitely burn calories completing a cardio workout, but to lose weight your primary concern should be muscle loss.  Muscles make it easier for your body to prevent fat gain.  Your body will burn more calories maintaining muscle than maintaining fat. In other words, the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will burn each day.  The less muscle you have the lower your metabolism.  A great weight loss program should focus on (in this order) your caloric intake, weight training and then cardio.

 5- Myth:Stretching before a workout prevents injury and increased my performance.

stretch

BUSTED: I know, you grew up stretching before a workout or sporting event because your coach or parents told you it was beneficial.  You were probably told that stretching prevents injury, when in fact, the opposite is true.  Recent studies show that stretching before a workout will weaken the muscle by up to 30%.  By elongating your muscles before strenuous exercise you actually may be increasing the risk of injury. Instead of stretching before a workout, get your blood flowing through your muscles with some low impact cardio for 5 to 10 minutes.  Stretching after a workout is great and still proves to be beneficial.

Grab Bag Antioxidant Superstars:

anthocyanins

Here’s some really good news…. huge group (93,600 women… nurses, actually) followed for a long-term study (18 years)… showed that consuming blueberries or strawberries 3 or more times a week reduced risk of heart attacks by 32%. That’s THIRTY TWO PER CENT, just by poppin’ berries in your pie hole at least 3 times a week.

The science behind the news lies in the FLAVANOIDS in the berries… in particular the anthocyanins so plentiful in purple, blue and red foods.

PH_anthocyanins

Other good choices include blackberries, cherries, black currants, grapes, red wine, eggplant, plums and raspberries.

Oh, by the way… go organic, OK? If fresh is prohibitive, Costco sells bags of organic frozen blueberries… and frozen is just as good… sometimes better… than fresh.

Grab Bag Brain Game:

Auditory and visual skills come in to play as you are asked to match an animal’s sound with its picture:

THE SQUEAKING MOUSE

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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Grab Bag Price Detective:

So I just learned that Costco, Sam’s Club, Target and probably other retailers have a code built into their pricing that let’s employees know at a glance if the item is full price, discounted or a final stock that will not be reordered. 

The Costco info comes from a pretty thorough blog on the topic, written by Len Rappaport. Read the article on Costco pricing here and for this 2012 holiday season here.

Here are the highlights:

Items with prices ending in $__._9 are the original price

Items with prices ending in $__,_7 are reduced for clearance

Items with odd price endings like .89, .79 or .49 usually mean Costco got a special deal from the manufacturer and are passing it on to you.

Items with an asterisk (” * “) in the right hand corner of the price tag will on the price sign will not be re-stocked.

Also look for “Manufacturer’s Rebate”, which is often an exclusive deal Costco has negotiated with the manufacturer.

Here are some examples price codes and rebates Len Rappaport found this holiday season at Costco compared to the same items available on Amazon:

This Cuisinart Food Processor has been reduced and will not be reordered.

Selling for $37-$95 on the internet

Price codes at Target:

Items with prices ending in $__._9 are the regular price

Items with prices ending in 8,7,6,5 and 4 are discounted.

If the price ends in a 4, such as $5.94, that signifies that it is the last time an item will be marked down

The small numbers in the top right corner of the price tag indicate the percentage discount you’re getting off of the regular price (for example, if you see “75”, that’s 75% off the regular or original price)

If you see ” * ” it mean these items have more than one location somewhere on the floor, like and endcap.

Grab Bag Egg-ceptional Choices:

So… is there REALLY a good reason to buy free-range eggs? Ummm… ya… looks like there is. Phil Lempert, food editor for NBC’s Today show and creator of the website SupermarketGuru.com, reports on recent testing on free-range eggs:

According to Mother Earth News (motherearthnews.com), testing was carried out on 14 chicken flocks around the country that range freely on pasture or are housed in moveable pens, rotated frequently to maximize access to fresh pasture and protect the birds from predators. They found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial, “conventional” (i.e., from confined hens) eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene.

In addition to the health benefits for humans, the chickens benefit, too. Many times commercially raised chickens are crowded into small spaces and never see the light of day and are fed a diet that consists of corn, soy or cottonseed with additives. When you buy certified free-range eggs you can support more humane conditions for the chickens, comforted by the knowledge that they have foraged on real pasture, under real sunlight or rain and be assured that their natural diet, which includes green plants, insects and worms, has ensured their nutritional superiority for you the consumer.

Grab Bag Medical Meditation:

Here’s your prescription…. meditate for 12 minutes a day and call me in 20 years…. and you will likely remember.  The good doctors Oz and Rosen from RealAge.com have this to say about the practice of meditation and how it affects memory:

We firmly believe that daily meditation transforms the mind, body, and spirit. It makes grey (and white) matter grow in brain regions that affect learning and mood. Plus, meditation reduces stress and strengthens your cardiovascular system.

New findings add to all that! Seems that people with mild memory loss can prevent the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease by increasing cerebral blood flow, boosting mood, and relieving anxiety, tension, and fatigue with as little as 12 minutes of daily meditation. That helps restore their recall ability and prevents future memory loss.

For those of us who don’t have memory loss yet, meditation has many benefits, including brain health. If you want to give meditation a try, follow this 4-step meditation plan:

  1. Set aside 12 minutes a day to meditate, and keep that time in your schedule sacred.
  2. Get thee to a quiet place. No cells, no music, no Internet. Turn it all off so you can tune in.
  3. Sit in a comfortable position with good posture. Breathe in through your nose slowly for 4 seconds and exhale slowly through an open mouth for as long as you can. Build to 8 seconds.
  4. Repeat the breathing rhythm while you let your mind drift. Recognize thoughts as they appear and let them go. Say OM — and OMG, you’ll feel clearer and stronger.

Grab Bag Clever Cuppa’:

Some people are just plain clever. How about this as a an alternative to disposable coffee cups, now probably numbering in the billions in our landfills?

Take a Mason or Bell jar with the two-part lid, and use the collar portion to secure a plastic hot cup spouted lid. Coffee/tea/whatever on the go, with so little waste 🙂 Even feel OK about grabbing a cardboard “hot sleeve” from your local coffee place, or invent one of your own.

Grab Bag Clean Crafter:

From the Queen of Clean and Craft, Martha Stewart, comes this simple recipe that is touted by many to battle water spots and tub grim better than anything you could buy in a store:

Here’s a nontoxic but effective way to clean your tub and shower: Add one teaspoon of liquid soap and several drops of a naturally antibacterial essential oil (such as tea tree, eucalyptus, rosemary, or peppermint) to one cup of baking soda. Add just enough water to form a paste, and use it with a sponge or brush to scour bathtub surfaces.

Grab Bag Pumpkin Patch:

In case you want to get a jump on next autumn’s decor, check out these pics from the Arboretum in Dallas, Texas for some inspiration:

Grab Bag Brain Game:

The colored balls float in and out, disappearing behind the target. Track their speed and direction with your mind and click the corresponding ball under the image when you think it is in the bullseye.

Grab Bag Funny Stuff:

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